By Pam Gorsuch
Next time you’re at $5 Fridays, take a second look at the food scraps you send back to the kitchen. They just might come back to campus as mulch.
This week, the university’s composting program was expanded to all major dining facilities on campus as part of a waste minimization effort jointly sponsored by Administration & Finance and Chartwells. The program will enable food scraps from the Glen Dining Hall, the University Union, and the West Village Commons to be diverted from the landfill. Sustainability Director Jack Nye believes the program will have a significant effect on reducing campus waste.
“Based on our projections, we estimate that between 190 and 280 tons
of organics can be diverted from the landfill annually as a result of this program,” Jack said. “That could potentially reduce campus carbon emissions by 210 to 315 tons each year.”
The program is run in the dining facilities by Chartwells staff and serviced by Waste Neutral, who collects the separated food scraps from campus three times a week and returns 40 pounds of mulch for each ton of compost collected. Compost from the Newell Dining Hall, which piloted the program during the 2010-2011 academic year, averaged more than 250 pounds per day for a total of almost 25 tons. If those results are echoed across campus, the cost of the program may be deflected by the savings.
“Our goal is to get a net zero cost for the program, meaning that the cost of the service is balanced by the avoided costs of landfill tipping fees on the waste that would otherwise be produced, plus the avoided cost of the mulch that we get back,” Jack said. “We think that we’ll be able to achieve this by the second or third year of the program.”
In addition to the composting program, Dining Services is piloting a new recycling system aimed at reducing the waste from dining halls, and selling hot and cold reusable cups that can be used for discounted refills in all dining facilities.
For more information on green initiatives, go to www.towson.edu/gogreen.